Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lost Luggage - A Character Building Moment



American Airlines lost our luggage on our way to Oklahoma City, the night before my Father's funeral. Normally this wouldn't be THAT big of a deal. However, it was a big deal because we were the last flight in for the day and the next flight from Dallas (our connection) and Oklahoma City was after my Dad's funeral.

We sort of stood in disbelief watching as the same bags rotated by on the conveyor belt. Josh sniffled. He had started to feel sick the day before. I have traveled hundreds, maybe even thousands of times, I've only had my luggage not make it once in all of that time. It wasn't possible that my luggage wasn't there. Sure we had rushed from plane to plane in Dallas, but surely our luggage made it too. It was a little past midnight and I started to wonder if we might miss our opportunity to check in for our rental car too. Josh and I started to wander looking for an airline representative that could help us. As usual in baggage claim, things were chaotic. We located the lady in charge and realized that she was already helping someone else. Shortly after, another gentleman walked up, also looking for assistance. She completely ignored everyone but the person that she was helping. Why don't people know that just a simple direction helps to calm a person's nerves? Please just acknowledge that I'm standing there and tell me where to go.

We dutifully followed her back to the baggage claim office, even though she gave us no signal to do so, and were a little shocked as she entered with the woman and slammed the door behind them. I quickly realized that the gentleman intended to be the next in line by how he positioned himself in front of the door. Great, even longer to wait. Josh kept his wits about him and decided to handle the rental car while I sat and stewed in line. I mentally counted back time over and over trying to calculate the latest possible time that we could get our suitcase in the morning and still make it to my Dad's funeral on time, fully dressed. I tried to reassure myself that there was no reason why they couldn't have the bag to us with plenty of time to spare the next morning. Was this really happening?

By the time, the woman and the gentleman were done, I had tears welling in my eyes. Uh oh. I decided to just lay it all out for the airline representative, "My Dad died. His funeral is tomorrow morning. Can you guarantee to have my bag to me by 10am?" Her eyes went wide. I felt bad. It was already awful enough that I had such a bad week, now I had made this lady feel bad too. It wasn't her fault that my bag wasn't there.

By this time, Josh had joined me again. He was annoyed. We had rented the same exact kind of car from the same exact rental place (Hertz) from the same exact representative as the week before. The week before she added Josh as a driver for free because we have a AAA membership. This time she acted as if she had no idea what he was talking about. Sheesh, could we catch a break?

The airline representative typed away on her computer and said that there was no possible way that our bag would get to us in time. She looked at me and asked how much I would need to spend to clothe myself for the funeral. I looked at her in shock. Then, I looked at Joshua in shock. Where does one go shopping for clothes at 1 in the morning for their Father's funeral? She suggested Walmart, one of my least favorite places to even go, let alone shop. After gaining my composure, I suggested $100 for each of us would possibly cover our needs. She replied that she was only able to offer $100 for one of us. What, why did she ask then? Don't we both need something to wear? I started naming a list of things that I could think of off hand for each of us... deodorant, shoes, socks, tights, etc. We had nothing. Josh looked at her with utter disbelief and pointed out that we had packed together. She started typing away again and looked really uncomfortable. Finally, she claimed that she could extend it to $150 but that was it. I didn't argue. I was exhausted.

Shortly after, I walked through Walmart's clothing section looking for an appropriate black dress. Nothing. I started to look for shoes. Nothing. I felt as if I was walking in circles, looking for things that I needed but not finding a single thing. Was I too tired to even pick something? I ended up picking out one single pair of underwear. To Josh's credit, he suggested that I pull out my phone and look up Target's locations and hours. He knew that I'd have a much easier time finding what I needed at a Target (a store that I know and love). He was right. He usually is. As Josh and I walked to the register, I started to laugh uncontrollably. Not my normal, "happy-go-lucky laugh" but my "I am losing my mind" laugh. All that I could think is that all that I had to wear to my Dad's funeral, which was really in only a few hours, was underwear. That's it. Are you kidding me?

Have I mentioned how much I love Joshua yet? I love him. His cool head under pressure is undoubtedly helpful for me. He was an angel throughout the whole experience of losing my Dad.

The next morning, my Mom and I were the first ones to walk into Target. We located everything that we needed in a timely fashion. We even had time to spare to stop by Starbucks. Thanks Target! Although I was disappointed to have had the extra stress and pressure, I was able to make it work. I recognized that the entire situation was a character building moment. It very much felt as if the universe was testing me to see just how much I could handle. I passed. I made it. I didn't crumble. And now, almost a week later, I can't help but smile as I think of myself walking out of that Walmart with only a pair of undies. It was certainly an unforgettable moment.

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